Dominic Wood is a prime example of a small business operator showing that every little counts when it comes to green issues at his Wildwood bar in Bristol. "We try to be environmentally friendly in a number of ways," he says. "In front of house we separate and recycle all bottles and cardboard at an increased cost to ourselves and we do not throw away old menus, but instead use them to create information packs to send to local businesses and residents."
Motion sensor switches have been installed in the toilets to save energy and any light bulbs not directly on show are energy savers. "We also have a group of gardeners who come weekly to pick our used coffee cakes from the machine to use on their compost," he adds.
Back of house Wood concedes that cost is a prime motivator when selecting produce. "In the main we use local suppliers but price is always an issue, and as a fledgling business I do not let my heart rule my head as far as using all things local goes. If the price is unreasonable then I will look elsewhere," he says.
Wood tries to incentivise his team to be mindful about wastage in the kitchen and bar by giving away free drinks here or there when these numbers are kept low. He also works hard on predicting levels of business in order to carry the right amount of stock - sometimes collecting produce with the rest of his team. "Our chefs convene most Sundays to go foraging for wild mushrooms to use in our well-established mushroom stroganoff," he says.
But while Wood believes sustainability is important, he says he would never use it as a tag line for the Wildwood. "It is a very serious commitment to suggest that you are an ethically/environmentally sound business and easy for people to pick faults in your operation. Our customers realise that our intentions are good, but I think that only a small proportion of people will search out an establishment purely for its green standpoint," he says.
Mentor Rupert Clevely says: "It sounds like Dominic is doing everything he possibly can within the normal realms of running a good business," although he acknowledges it's particularly difficult for small businesses to always put the environmental agenda first, as profitability must be the business driver.
"You can try to be as green as possible but you have to do it at a level where you're still profitable. Being green is often hampered by the number one priority, which means the business has to see financial reward. Bearing this in mind, Dominic is doing a fantastic job with all these efforts. There are more areas he can explore but he can do these as and when the business expands enough to allow him to pursue them."
90 Colston Street, Bristol BS1 5BB
0117 929 3627
While holiday-makers were slathering on the sun cream this summer - although perhaps not in this country - Dominic Wood and his team were busy compiling their Christmas menu well ahead of schedule.
"Our Christmas menu has been available since July, which seems a bit corporate for us, but people were requesting them so we got on with it! The end of the summer is a good thing for us as people certainly see us as a cosy destination," he says.
Clearly corporate business is serving the Wildwood well and Wood says he has really been hitting the private party sector, taking 22 bookings in the past two weeks alone.
"We also now have a new wine list and a great selection of guest wines and beers up on blackboards. This has helped us satisfy more people's tastes by offering much greater variety," he adds.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper